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Dr. Susan David: The Importance of Emotional Agility at Work

May 24, 2018 / Member Spotlights

Why do we need emotional agility?

As many of you are experiencing firsthand, organizations today are faced with unprecedented complexity, driven by competition, globalization and technology among other forces. With these conditions comes the need to be agile, or able to adapt and flourish in changing circumstances.

The truth is that organizations themselves can never be truly agile unless the people who work within them are agile – and more specifically, emotionally agile.

Ironically, the very qualities needed in complex contexts are undermined by that same complexity. So instead of being tolerant of ambiguity – remaining clear-headed, inclusive, collaborative, and innovative – complexity drives the opposite. Employees are more likely to become transactional, make rash decisions, shut down, and feel stress, panic and guilt.

Emotional agility is a vital skill that enables the people, and the organizations in which they work, to thrive.

At work, especially when things get intense, we often fall back on old stories about who we believe ourselves to be.

To successfully deal with situations like getting (or needing to give) negative feedback, or feeling pressured to take on more work or to work faster, dealing with supervisors or coworkers with strong personalities, or even feeling unappreciated or that our work-life balance is out of whack, it’s crucial to consciously update our inner narratives in much the same way we update our résumés. Some stuff simply needs to be left behind because it no longer reflects our values or who we are.

The next time you find yourself, in a moment of stress or dealing with real complexity, ask yourself:

  • I might be “right” but is my response serving me? My team? My organization?
  • What is my objective here? What am I truly trying to do?
  • What action here is most aligned with my values?

Want to dive deeper into how you and your organization can practice emotional agility?

Click here to read “Emotional Agility at Work: Helping Your Employees Master Complexity & Stress,” developed by Susan David and Virgin Pulse.

Meet Susan David

 Dr. Susan David is one of the world’s leading management thinkers, an award–winning Harvard Medical School Psychologist, and a member of the Virgin Pulse Institute Science Advisory Board. She is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and guest on national radio and television.

A #1 Wall Street Journal best seller and Harvard “Management Idea of the Year” winner, David’s book Emotional Agility describes the psychological skills that are critical to thriving in today’s world of complexity and change

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